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Mar 14, 2014 09:15 AM

Best Authentic, Exquisite Dim Sum and Chinese Bakeries?

I'm completely deprived of what I grew up on —quality Dim Sum—while living in the heart of the midwest. Coming in from 1,500 miles away and need to seriously make up for lost time! Haw gao, siu mai, lo bak go, lo mei gai, cheung fun, dan tat, etc. I'm ravenous just thinking about it. Also looking for amazing execution of not so sweet, authentic Chinese pastries. (edit: or not authentic... so long as they're amazing!)

Will be in the Bay area willing to drive an hour outside of the Bay Area and even 4-5 hours south since it's already on the itinerary. Will be in Oakland for a few days as well.

Where do the long time Chinese locals go? Have you been?
What's particularly not to miss, price range?

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  1. It depends on the type of pastry you're looking for (egg tarts: Golden Gate bakery in SF), but if you're interested in amazing Chinese breads, try 85 degrees C in Newark. They're not the traditional Cantonese Chinatown kind, but they have some amazing breads (taro swirl, rose cheese, berry tails, brioche are my favorites). It's a bit of a drive, but it's better than any bread I've had even in Taiwan. They also have a really good sea salt latte.

    2 Replies
    1. re: marilees

      call up golden gate bakery to see if they are open! they go on vacation all the time!

    2. Koi Palace - Daly City
      Dim Sum King - Daly City

      I dine at one of these two places every weekend and at the latter, I am usually the only non-Asian patron.

      1. Yank Sing in the Rincon Center does really solid dim sum (it is at a pricier price point) and is well run. I am not an expert dim sum eater, but I don't notice a huge difference between Yank Sing and Koi Palce on dim sum standards, and Yank Sing is a bit more easy to deal with.

        1 Reply
        1. re: goldangl95

          The differences I noticed between Yank Sing and Koi Palace were all in Yank Sing's favor except for the price, and they give value for money, including not just taking but honoring reservations.

        2. Koi and Yank Sing will make you happy. The caveat I have about Koi is that while their standard fare Ha gao siu mai, etc. are fine, they have other 'more exquisite' dim sum that are not as frequently found elsewhere and you should try those.

          although coming from the midwest, any average dimsum joint and bakery here is miles better than what you find there. I lived in the midwest and at that time I struggled mightily to find anything that's even average. over there there just isn't enough immigrant population to sustain a more authentic operation. this is not to say of course that you should just hop into any random dimsum joints and bakeries in the bay area.

          The 4-5 hour drive south from SF doesn't have many (if any?) dimsum and bakeries once you left south bay. And I think that Koi for dimsum is better than the other dimsum choices in the south bay. Once you get to LA, there are plenty of choices in the San Gabriel Valley and Monterey Park area that the LA hounds can help you with.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ckshen


            >any average dimsum joint and bakeries here is miles better than what you find there.

            Absolutely ***not*** looking for average! Hence the inquiry...

            ; )

          2. I always worry when people make requests using such adjectives as "exquisite". Well, there is no "exquisite" dim sum to be found in the Bay Area, maybe not even in the whole US. But coming from the "mid west", maybe you have a different definition of exquisite. Koi Palace (Daly City) is probably the best dim sum place in the Bay Area. One person thinks it's the best Chinese restaurant in the US. There are many other solid, if not exquisite, dim sum places, most of them along a stretch of Camino Real in the city of Millbrae. Yang Sing in the City is also very good, albeit at a higher price point than many local Chinese would pay for dim sum.

            12 Replies
            1. re: PeterL


              My definition of "exquisite":
              haw gao and siu mai where the meat is tender, moist and flavorful and the wrap is lightly transparent and fresh with no hints of the wrap bing dried out. Cheung fun that *literally* melts in your mouth. Dan tat that is flaky, creamy smooth and not too sweet, lo mai gi that is well infused with the essence of the lotus/bamboo/banana leaf used for the wrap to include good flavored rice made with stock and bits of mushroom and a succulent filling including Chinese sausage. Chicken feet that are not greasy, well, nothing should be greasy. Where it's obvious everything was made fresh and has not been pre-made and frozen ahead of time.

              I know what I'm looking for, I just need guidance to find it!
              Does my definition help?

              1. re: Spireup

                Koi Palace has 100% crabmeat xiao long bao which should not be missed (comes with crab claws too). Get the baby pig while you're there. If you end up at Yank Sing, try their scallion pancake which is a "hollow" flaky style not often seen around here (you can get half orders on some items if you like). I also like their deep fried sea bass roll and their dou-miao dumpling. If you like steamed da bao or baked cha siu bao for breakfast, try Good Mong Kok (1039 Stockton). You could also do Benu for a Chinese dimsum-influenced tasting menu.

                1. re: barleywino

                  Can you get into Koi palace these days? Last time I checked, there was an hour wait even if you got there at 10 a.m., and they only had dim sum on weekends. Is that still the case?

                  1. re: JoyM

                    I think Saturdays are better than Sundays. I was there at 10am recently and got in no problem.

                    1. re: barleywino

                      Thanks for reporting. We are trying to go this Saturday at opening time 10 am, but our guests have a flight in SFO at 1 pm, so we can't risk a wait time. Do you think it'll be ok arriving at opening time, or do we need to go earlier in case this weekend is busier due to Mother's Day?

                      1. re: tofuflower

                        it's a big place so if you arrive at opening time, you should be able to get in. My guess is that Mother's day Sunday would be busier than Saturday. If you want baby pig, it might not be available until around 11am.

                        1. re: barleywino

                          Thank you for the timely response! It reassured us in our decision to go there.

                          Just reporting back that we got there 10 minutes before opening on Saturday. There already was a line of about 50 people outside, but we all shuffled in easily. There were some big tables (10+) left empty 15-20 minutes after opening while small groups were already waiting in the lobby.

                          Yes, the baby pig was not available, so I guess that's the trade off for eating without a wait.

                          We ordered most of our items off the menu, so the downside is that some items took up to 45 minutes to arrive. This made our guests antsy because they wanted to leave at 11 am to catch their flight. It ended up being fine - we did have to cancel one item, but our guests left in time.

                          1. re: tofuflower

                            Great to hear.

                            While I've not tried this at Koi Palace, the dim sum houses in Millbrae can be pretty responsive when you tell them at ordering time that you have a flight to catch.

                    2. re: JoyM

                      Last sunday during lunch time when i called they told me its a 30 minute wait.

                      their website says dimsum is lunch hours only. didn't see mention that its weekend only.


                      1. re: JoyM

                        I go to Koi almost every weekend; at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, I am seated immediately.

                      2. re: barleywino

                        >Koi Palace has 100% crabmeat xiao long bao which should not be missed (comes with crab claws too). Get the baby pig while you're there.

                        Oh my G. You're talking my language.
                        100% crabmeat with claws!?
                        Baby pig? How is it prepared?

                        1. re: Spireup

                          The baby pig is available about an hour after they open. Crispy skin placed on top of sliced meat. The crab xlb i had there today had thicker skins than previously.